Kokomo’s at Mall of America – Minneapolis, MN

In Minneapolis we had the experience of witnessing the highs and lows of modern tiki culture in one day. After an excellent lunch at Psycho Suzi’s, we still had a few hours until our flight left so we headed over to the Mall of America. (It’s very close to the airport; coincidence? I think not.)

James A. Teitelbaum’s Tiki Road Trip had mentioned there was a tiki restaurant here, so we set out to find it. But I was unprepared for the Margaritaville-esque nightmare that awaited us.

Granted, I actually kind of like the giant hibiscus flowers over the thatched bar, but all those pastel chairs hurt my eyes. Just wait, though, it gets worse, much worse…

Check out these huge hideous tikis out and about. And I thought the ones at Boutiki in Disney’s Polynesian Resort were bad.

There’s just something about the expression on this one that gives me the heebie-jeebies. (I guess it’s appropriate that I’m finally posting this around Halloween, this should be enough to give you the creeps.)

In fact I was so put off by this place that we didn’t even stay to try any of their drinks. We went to Dairy Queen for chocolate dipped cones instead.

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Tiki Farm’s 10 Years of Tiki Mugs Exhibition

If you picked up any tiki mug from my collection, there’s a good chance that you would find the words “Tiki Farm” emblazoned on the bottom. Over the last 10 years, “the hardest working company in tiki” has produced hundreds of designs, including the locale specific ones I’ve picked up at Frankie’s Tiki Room, The Beachcomber Cafe, and Psycho Suzi’s, to barely name a few.

In celebration of this milestone, they put together an exhibition that’s at La Luz de Jesus gallery through the end of the month. The opening night shindig last weekend drew a ton of people and once again I got to experience the joys of trying to find a parking space in Silverlake (totally worth it, though).

Tiki Farm also rolled out these new limited-edition mugs that night: Mana-Mana by Atomic Tony Tiki (Mahna Mahna?), Makalani mermaid bowl by Tiki Shark, Slickster by Ghost, Local Boy by Tiki Shark, Lil Waha Nui by Joe Vitale, and Mr. G Is Stoked by Mr. G. Each was part of a run of only 120 or fewer.

There were lots of long sold-out specimens on display, but I was really taken aback by the test glazes of some familiar faces, like this lilac-colored version of the Tiki Bandit. It was like Bizarro Tiki World.

The parking lot behind the gallery was packed—that’s where the Mai Tais were served up and surf band The Dynotones performed. In fact, I spent so much time chatting with some friendly folks that came down from Fresno that I’ll have to make another visit to really go through the exhibition (in a sober state of mind).

I also got to meet this little friend, who came over to say hi while I was crouching down to get a gander at some mugs on the bottom shelf. I hope Charlie won’t be too jealous!

Psycho Suzi’s – Minneapolis, MN

*Editor’s note: This is the old location. Check out my review of the new Psycho Suzi’s here.

I knew that other tiki sighting in Minnesota would not be the last as I had penciled in a visit to Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge for when we headed back into the Twin Cities for our return flight.

Psycho Suzi’s opened in 2003, but with its wood paneling, string lights and what looks like somebody’s personal stash of tiki mugs lining the walls, it reminds me of a circa-1970s rec room. Tiki purists need not fret, though, as there’s plenty of bamboo, fish floats and framed Exotica album covers scattered around, too.

Emblazoned on their logo t-shirts and behind the bar is the epithet for Don the Beachcomber’s most famous drink, The Zombie: “Mender of Broken Dreams.” Supposedly the scene gets more rowdy as the night wears on, but we were there for lunch on a beautiful day when most of the patrons chose to sit under thatch umbrellas out on the patio with the moais.

Psycho Suzi’s offers about a half dozen generic tiki mugs that can be purchased upon ordering their coordinating cocktails, but this terrifying fellow is their special signature vessel from Tiki Farm. It contains “a 20 oz. delirium of Redrum, secret syrup and a whole lime.” For another $7, the mug becomes a souvenir!

Whereas the fare at many tiki establishments skews toward highbrow (er, expensive, anyway) Chinese/Polynesian, the food here is unabashedly lowbrow American (but more importantly, tasty). We loved the beer-battered Wisconsin cheese curds ($8) and bacon-wrapped cocktail weenies with bourbon-brown sugar glaze ($7.50).

There’s a selection of salads and sandwiches, but their specialty is “World Famous Minneapolis Pizza” (hardy har). We ordered their deep dish cheese pie ($13) and judged it to be a good effort, considering that we (well, Mr. Hockey at least) are Chicago pizza snobs.

This “Motor Lounge” (the restaurant was converted from an A&W Drive-In with car hops and everything! I’m such a nerd for that stuff) was featured on an episode of that Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.” You can see the YouTube clip here.

However, in November, Psycho Suzi’s is moving to a riverfront location just six blocks away. According to the Star Tribune, it’s four times larger than their current space. (I hope they’ll be taking these awesome atomic lamps with them.)

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
2519 Marshall St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
612-788-9069

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